THE HINDU EDITORIAL – 10, July – 2017

a) A dangerous turn

Political violence is commonplace in West Bengal, where every level of elections is fiercely contested. Over the last three years, however, the escalating violence has entered more dangerous terrain, with a marked increase in communal tension and rioting. On July 2 in Basirhat, an inflammatory Facebook post, allegedly by a 17-year-old, provoked a round of wanton violence orchestrated by some radical Muslim outfits in the North 24 Parganas district. While the person was arrested quickly, the State government displayed a lack of resolve to immediately halt the protests that led to blocked roads, an attack on a police station, and vandalisation of shops and houses in Basirhat and nearby areas. Paramilitary forces were finally deployed by July 4, returning a degree of calm but only after the damage had been done. Soon, accusations and recriminations followed as the BJP sought to make this a case of minority-led communalism while the ruling Trinamool Congress complained that the BJP was fanning communal tensions. The politics spilled over into a needless spat between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, attended by allegations and name-calling. Rather than personalise and politicise a meeting between constitutional functionaries to extract political mileage, Ms. Banerjee should have shown greater initiative to defuse the situation by tackling the violence firmly and bringing to book those responsible for the acts of arson. The incidents in Basirhat seem eerily similar to what transpired in Kaliachak in Malda district in January 2016. Then, too, the State government had not shown alacrity in ending the violence, or acting against those responsible for it. Such communal violence is not common in West Bengal, which makes it all the more worrisome. The State had largely escaped the communal trouble that erupted in many parts of North India during the run-up to and in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. In terms of political discourse, the contestation between the Congress and the Left Front, and later with the TMC, was mainly on the basis of class politics or patronage. Ever since the Muslim peasantry, especially in southern Bengal, abandoned its support for the Left Front — a fallout of the anti-land acquisition agitations in Nandigram and Singur — the TMC has worked assiduously to consolidate its support among them. But it has done this by blatantly pandering to conservative and reactionary sections among Muslims, in the hope of earning the community’s support. Such an approach is exactly what the BJP, which was once electorally irrelevant in the State, feeds on in order to frame its own polarising narrative. From all accounts this has worked, as the party has grown into something of a political force in the State. Some of West Bengal’s districts have been hit particularly hard by the increasing hold of sectarian politics, which risks turning the State into a communal hot spot. Steps must be taken to urgently reverse this trend before further damage is done.

b) Divided island

The failure in Geneva last week of a round of talks on the reunification of Cyprus is by all measures a huge diplomatic setback. This is not the first time the United Nations-backed dialogue between the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the north and the GreekCypriot Republic of Cyprus has been deadlocked. Even so, the current stalemate is disappointing as the prospects for a final deal had been pinned on the two interlocutors — Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, his counterpart in Northern Cyprus. Both represent a generation that regards the status quo as an everyday reminder of the memories of partition of the island, whose combined population is just about one and a half million. The split took place in 1974 when Turkey invaded the north after an Athens-backed coup in Cyprus aimed at annexing the island. Among the main challenges the two leaders face is the demand for restitution of the property rights of the Greek-Cypriots who had led the north in the 1970s. The establishment of an institutional framework to secure the interests of both ethnic groups is another. Nicosia’s assurances of a rotating presidency between Greek and Turkish-Cypriots in a future federal union have not soothed anxieties in the north. Another challenge is Turkey’s refusal to guarantee the withdrawal of its troops stationed in the north. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insists on an indefinite Turkish military presence on the island. The record of stalled negotiations, in fact, is almost as old as the 1974 partition. An early test of the diplomatic and political resolve to reunite the region was the 2002 Koi Annan plan for reconciliation. Its terms were rejected by Greek-Cypriots in a 2004 referendum, which coincided with Cyprus joining the European Union. Voters had counted on the increased leverage EU membership would allow them vis-à-vis the north. On the other hand, the Turkish-Cypriots had ratified the Annan plan overwhelmingly, sensing enhanced prospects for a reunited island inside the bloc. The potential for reconciliation might also have been boosted by Turkey’s bid to join the EU, which was then high on the agenda in Brussels. More than a decade later, a reunion seems to be as elusive as ever. Yet, the economic incentives for reunification have, if anything, become more compelling. A united Cyprus would allow both parts of the island to realise their immense tourism potential. The prospect of exploitation of offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean too is something the two sides could then realistically set their eyes on. But the imperative is not just economic — a successful settlement would allow Cyprus to be more in control of its affairs, without both the sides being so reliant on neighbouring powers.



Meaning: Take part in a violent public disturbance.

Example: Students rioted in Paris.

Synonyms: Rampage


Meaning: Plan or coordinate the elements of (a situation) to produce a desired effect, especially surreptitiously.

Example: The situation has been orchestrated by a tiny minority.

Synonyms: Organize, Arrange

Antonyms: Random


Meaning: The act of deliberately destroying or damaging public or private property.

Example: Due to vandalisation in the past, a security system has been installed in the house.

Synonyms: Trashing, Defacement


Meaning: An accusation in response to one from someone else.

Example: There are no tears, no recriminations.

Synonyms: Accusation


Meaning: In a strange and frightening manner.

Example: Their footsteps echoed eerily.


Meaning: (of a secret or something unknown) come to be known; be revealed.

Example: It transpired that millions of dollars of debt had been hidden in a complex web of transactions.

Synonyms: Reveal, Discovered

Antonyms: Vanish, Conceal


Meaning: Brisk and cheerful readiness.

Example: She accepted the invitation with alacrity.

Synonyms: Eagerness, Willingness

Antonyms: Apathy


Meaning: The action or process of demolishing or being demolished.

Example: The monument was saved from demolition.

Synonyms: Destruction, Clearance

Antonyms: Construction, Confirmation


Meaning: The action or process of disputing or arguing.

Example: Ideological contestation over social policy in the European Union.

Synonyms: Arguable


Meaning: The power to control appointments to office or the right to privileges.

Example: Recruits are selected on merit, not through political patronage.

Synonyms: Partiality, Partisanship

Antonyms: Opposition, Competition


Meaning: With great care and perseverance.

Example: Leaders worked assiduously to hammer out an action plan.

Synonyms: Actively, Intently

Antonyms: Quietly, Inactively


Meaning: In an open and unashamed manner.

Example: Yet another space show that blatantly disregarded scientific fact.

Synonyms: Obvious, Palpable

Antonyms: Inconspicuous, Subtle


Meaning: Opposing political or social progress or reform.

Example: Reactionary attitudes toward women’s rights.

Synonyms: Conservative

Antonyms: Radical, Progressive


Meaning: Restrict the vibrations of (a transverse wave, especially light) wholly or partially to one direction.

Example: Some of the light is polarized so that it vibrates in only one plane.

Synonyms: Separate, Divide


Meaning: Cause (a situation or opposing parties) to come to a point where no progress can be made because of fundamental disagreement.

Example: The meeting is deadlocked.

Synonyms: Creek, Calm

Antonyms: Moving, Active


Meaning: A person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.

Example: Abraham was able to act as interpreter and interlocutor for our group.

Synonyms: Speaker, Talker


Meaning: Add as an extra or subordinate part, especially to a document.

Example: The first ten amendments were annexed to the Constitution in 1791.

Synonyms: Attach, Join


Meaning: The restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner.

Example: The ANC had demanded the restitution of land seized from blacks.

Synonyms: Return, Restoration

Antonyms: Seizure, Occupation


Meaning: Relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition.

Example: Ethnic and cultural rights and traditions.

Synonyms: Racial, Genetic


Meaning: Gently calm (a person or their feelings).

Example: A shot of brandy might soothe his nerves.

Synonyms: Calm, Quiet

Antonyms: Agitate, Disturb


Meaning: The restoration of friendly relations.

Example: His reconciliation with your uncle.

Synonyms: Reunion, Conciliation

Antonyms: Feud, Estrangement


Meaning: A person or group occupying a corresponding position to that of another in a different sphere; a counterpart.

Example: His admiration for the US armed services extends to their vis-à-vis, the Russian military.


Meaning: To a very great degree or with a great majority.

Example: The country voted overwhelmingly for independence.

Synonyms: Powerfully, Strongly

Antonyms: Weakly, Quietly


Meaning: Difficult to find, catch, or achieve.

Example: Success will become ever more elusive.

Synonyms: Difficult, Evasive


Meaning: Of or characteristic of the Mediterranean Sea, the countries bordering it, or their inhabitants.

Example: A leisurely Mediterranean cruise.

Synonyms: Inland sea


Meaning: Dependent on someone or something.

Example: The Company is heavily reliant on the baby market.

Synonyms: Dependent

Antonyms: Independent